Conference centre upgrade meeting schedule and budget

Artist’s impression of the new Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Giving a progress report this morning at the LECS on Two Mile Hill, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy assured that just as they had delivered the new 321 additional car park spaces on time and on budget at $8.531 million with no over runs at all, they intend to do the same with the other upgrades being done at the facility.

“Three slabs have been cast and we have one more slab, I believe, that needs to be cast, and in essence we can start the fitting out. In spite of some initial issues, it is a credit to the team that†we are actually on time for a delivery towards the middle of next year, June 2013, for the main office building and again on budget.

“It is also worthwhile to note the work is becoming more visible with the construction of the atrium and the porte-coch?re.

“The project financiers, the Bank of Nova Scotia, who of course have their own project team working with us, they have been working quite well. The disbursements are coming. Over $30 million have already been drawn down, including the work that has been done with the respect to the kitchen, the car park and, of course, the work on the new office space.

“So I think that that has been going very smoothly and it should come as no surprise that the bank is extremely satisfied with the progress given that we are meeting our deadlines and we are not going over budget. I guess it is no surprise they have cooperated fully with an additional project, a $3 million project that they are working on to reduce the conference centre’s high electricity bill,” he said.

After completion of work on the facility, Sealy said it was the Government’s aim that it could benefit from the hosting of conferences.

“Conferences and conventions is a significant part of tourism offerings in many destinations, we feel Barbados can do more. We simply have not done enough in that regard.

“What we anticipate will occur is that we would have an additional space of 68,822 square feet (the floor offices spaces). In doing that, the Ministry of Tourism that currently occupies the South Western corner of the building, they would relocated to the main offices and that will free up 10,000 square feet of space that can be used to enhance the conference facility offerings.

“We think the facility continues to be Barbados’ premier conference centre, in offering up that additional space it puts us on course for the centre to be marketed not only across the island but of course internationally to attract more large conferences.

“What you find in trying to bring conferences her, the organisers not only want the actual floor space where the conferences is taking place but they also need the secretariat to back up the conference activity; and so we will enhance the conference facilities by also having that additional space to have incorporate into the conference facility offerings, we think that is indeed a plus,” he said. (KC)

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